What an amazing story. The Abbates seem to be your typical American family – middle class, three sons and a daughter, with athletic children. Their college-aged son Jon plays football for Wake Forest, and their 15-year old son Luke plays lacrosse and football in high school.
When Luke’s classmate has to stay later at school, he has to find another ride home. Getting razzed by his lacrosse teammates about having his mom pick him up, he gets a ride home from one of the teammates. Except the driver is hell-bent on getting airborne at one particular section of the road to show off for his friends. He crashes. While the driver and two other passengers appear to only have minor injuries, Luke is airlifted to the nearest trauma center, as his parents are contacted and told about the accident.
About 24 hours later, Luke’s family is told that their son is brain-dead and needs to be removed from life support. Obviously this an emotionally devastating time for Luke’s family, and there’s a great moment when the parents walk into the hallway outside of Luke’s room and they see dozens of friends, classmates, neighbors blocking the entire hallway as they’re waiting for any news on Luke’s condition. But before the family can digest the enormity of what they’ve been told, a hospital worker is asking them to donate Luke’s organs, which they do decide to do.
Jon takes the loss of his younger brother very hard. He’s ready to quit football but his teammates, family, and friends all impress upon him that Luke wouldn’t want him to quit. It works. Jon doesn’t quit. In fact he becomes the inspirational leader of the Wake Forest football team and the team becomes the conference champions that year.
The 5th Quarter explores the emotional roller coaster that occurs after a young family member passes away. There are several poignant scenes, including the hallway scene when all of the people are waiting to hear a status update on Luke’s condition, and the funeral scene where the Mr. Abbate bypasses the pallbearers and pushes his own son’s casket out of the church. This was heart-wrenching to watch.
Unfortunately, I didn’t care for the on-the-field football scenes. It was as if they were shot by an amateur taking a home video, instead of by professional videographers. So much of the rallying around Jon, and the camaraderie between the players was shown, that the movie missed some of the normal happenings of everyday life was left out.
While Aidan Quinn gives the performance of a lifetime as a father who has lost his young son too early, Andie MacDowell’s performance is quite flat.The movie is certainly inspirational, and will have you reaching for the tissues throughout, but besides the performance by Aidan Quinn, it wasn’t great. If I was asked to rate the movie I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.